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Business Talk: ‘Education of Youth is the Foundation of Society’ – Akis Tsolis

Akis Tsolis, the CEO of ActiveMedia Group, presents key findings from research conducted by Deree students on primary and secondary marketing strategies involving the Greek sports tourism event Navarino Challenge.


“Education of youth is the foundation of society” – Pythagoras, 580-490 B.C.

With this quote from our multi award-winning sports tourism event, Navarino Challenge I opened the online briefing session addressed to students.

It was only one of the first steps of the collaboration between Active Media Group & the School of Business and Economics of Deree – The American College of Greece.

We worked together with Dr. Tzoumaka, the module leader responsible for the design and the execution of the project who oversaw the two leading introductory marketing courses across the School of Business and Economics and the Sports Management Program to design this authentic learning experience. Approximately 120 undergraduate students of 9 sections took part in a real-life project for Navarino Challenge.

The students first received a brief with information on the event and a 1.5-hour online information session followed. The students thereafter engaged in a thorough secondary research to provide a situation analysis and propositions on primary and secondary marketing strategies, from segmentation, targeting and positioning to marketing mix decisions. The top projects were presented to us.

Below are some key findings and propositions about Navarino Challenge from students’ work:

External environment: The economic & political forces

The students identified opportunities in the external environment of the Navarino Challenge:
“The government has characterized sports tourism as a product with a substantial incremental value. Studies have revealed that in most developed countries, sports tourism accounts for 20% of their total tourism, while it is estimated that sports tourism will have an annual increase between 41 and 45%.” *

They also discussed advancements regarding the following brand positioning components:

Brand Heritage

“The brand heritage, for the Navarino Challenge dates back to 2011, nearly a decade of constant successes and achievements of multiple awards, partnering with companies such as fitness and communication groups, which share the same values regarding sports and health. The reason of achievements relates with the company’s beliefs and values that sports unite people”.

Brand Values

“The Navarino Challenge’s brand values are related with the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, it educates youngsters and raises awareness against child obesity, but most importantly supports the idea that sports unite all people without discriminations”.

Brand Reflection

“As people from all around Europe and the world attend the event, the customer-individual perceives themselves as active, a person who enjoys healthy lifestyle, and accomplished either as a parent (through the family image and kids events) or through the connection of the event with Costa Navarino. The organization reflects an image of a business driven by ethics and noble ideals”.

Working for the first time with an educational institution for a sports tourism brand, of the magnitude of Navarino Challenge was unique. I can definitely say that the scale and quality of the research is an advancement, especially for an underrepresented topic in the business press.

Dr. Georgios Papageorgiou, Head of the Tourism, Hospitality and Sport department, expressed his wholehearted support of the event and agreed that represented an excellent forum for linking academic study with the business world: “All our instructors consider it imperative for classroom learning to transcend the academic curriculum and foster real-world engagement. The event amplified our students’ opportunities for accessing tacit knowledge – a vital contribution to their competitiveness in a dynamic and diverse job market”.

While Dr. Eugenia Tzoumaka noted “At Deree we welcome innovative pedagogical approaches like experiential learning that facilitates knowledge through exposing students to real-life problems and projects. Still, the materialization largely depends on companies like Active Media Group, a leading agency in Sports Tourism that commit to a time-intensive process that includes heavy preparation, coordinating schedules for meetings, information sessions and evaluation. And for this we are truly grateful”.

One more step of the dynamic cooperation was the organization of the Front Runners 3.0 Sports Management Web Conference where we talked about Vitamin N (coming from Nature).

The nature economy is booming. Destinations and hotels are taking advantage of their often-beautiful locations to offer more outdoor programming and marketing to their guests more creatively. There is a real desire to connect guests to natural surroundings.

The medicine for the COVID-19 stress is already a 30-minute walk in nature.

We were lucky enough to work in an amazing really blessed environment in Messinia, Pylos and Costa Navarino. We created and developed a simple wellness project: getting out in nature alone with family or with friends can also be completely free while being utterly freeing to our minds—making it the great mental wellness equalizer.

A project awarded in WTM in London as the Best Wellness Project in Europe and 2nd best in the world.

In our partnership with the Sports Management Society of Deree, we decided that our goal was not only to engage in innovative teaching methods, but also to develop within all students the traits, skills, and qualities that will make them leaders in their field. And as we all know, in higher education we must develop the tools to measure and assess. So, we should wait for announcements soon like the one we did for the volunteering in Navarino Challenge in order to nurture the spirit of giving. Just keep reading GTP!

One thing is certain, we will not stop innovating & educating. As USA President Obama believed that our hardest challenges require an “all hands-on deck” approach, bringing together government, industry, non-profits, philanthropy and others working together.

*(The speech of Deputy Minister of Culture & Sports, Mr. Lefteris Avgenakis at The Economist Sports Business Summit for Southeast Europe, 2019).


Akis Tsolis is the Chief Executive Officer of Active Media Group. He has been involved in Sports Tourism since 2008 and has a rich experience since 2000 in the fields of Communications, Sponsorship & Sports Management.
In the field of Sports Production, has organized two Greek All Star Games in basketball, participated in two more and in three FIBA All Star Games while he successfully ran the marketing departments of 12 basketball clubs with significant sponsorships like the one of Turkish Airlines in Maroussi BC (F16 Euroleague).
He has contributed to the design and implementation of successful projects in Sports Tourism such as Navarino Challenge (Best European Wellness Event) and Santorini Experience (Ermis Gold in Production), his agency has undertaken the communication of sports brands such as The North Face but also of events such as Zagori Mountain Running, Patmos Revelation, The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival etc. In the field of Golf, Active Media Group is leading almost for a decade from the Hellenic-Turkish Golf Tournament in 2012, to golf tournaments like Messinia Pro-Am, Greek Maritime Golf Event, Glyfada Maritime Golf Event etc. The newly formed Sports Presentation department undertook the corresponding service of the Mediterranean Beach Games with great success.
He has worked with leading companies in many fields, such as in Gaming with Microsoft (Xbox), in entertainment with FOX & National Geographic, Betting Companies (Bet-at-home, Expekt, Betfair etc.) but also in the airline industry with Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Ryanair.

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